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tv   Washington Week  PBS  October 8, 2010 8:00pm-8:30pm EDT

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worried. is this what republicans want? >> i would rather have 40 republicans who believe in the principles of freedom than 60
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who believe in nothing at all. >> i'm not a witch. i'm nothing you've heard. gwen: want economy still in a long-term stall -- >> it took as you long time to get out of where we are now and the damage left by this recession is so deep that it's going take a long time to get out. gwen: is this the best message democrats can hope for? >> reports of the death of the democratic party are exaggerated. gwen: at the supreme court, attacks on the limit of free speech. as the justices begin their new term. covering the week, peter baker of "new york times." michael duffy of time d magazine. david wessel of the "wall street journal" and joan biskupic of "u.s.a. today" d. >> award-winning reporting and analysis. covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week" with
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gwen ifill. produced in association with national journal. corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> we know why we're here. to connect our forces to what they need when they need it. >> to help troops see danger. before it sees them. >> to answer the call of the brave and bring them safely home. >> around the globe the people of boeing are working together to support and protect all who serve. >> that's why we're here. >> i'm an engineer. i loven my job. i can see what it's doing for the community on a day-to-day basis. natural gas is cleaner burning than most fossil fuels. increasingly we're finding gas in hard to reach areas. but now we've developed technology that enables us to access gas in hard rocks, so we
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it bring more fuel to homes and help provide a reliable source of energy into the future. >> corporate funding is also provided by wells fargo advisors and eharmony. additional funding for "washington week" is provided by the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation, the annanburg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. we've reached that point in the campaign year where we're reading like a dozen polls a day and we still don't know what's going to happen in november. for any number of reasons, from indications of witch craft in $, name calling in california or ignorance about the minimum wage in connecticut, neither party is breathing easy. both sides have resorted to
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rousing their base, sometimes using pretty similar language. >> here's the bottom line. we're going to need to work even harder in this election. we're going to need to fight their millions of dollars with millions of voices. everybody here who's ready to finish what we started in 2008. >> the bottom line is this, to help our economy create jobs we have to stop all of the coming tax hikes and we have to cut spending and to get all of this done we need to change the congress itself now. gwen: bottom lines aside, both parties are facing a familiar dilemma in the next several weeks. how to get the people who like you to vote and how to get the rest of them to stay home. what is the democratic party's approach? >> we see right now, of course, president obama spending a lot more time on the campaign trail and vice president biden. the president this sunday will
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be in philadelphia for the second of four large ralies he's holding around the country and his message really is aimed at his base. the democratic base in particular. you can't sit on the sidelines. it's inexcuse to be sit on the sidelines. you may be disappointed with me, he's saying, you may not like everything i've done. gwen: don't make me look bad is one thing he said. >> and the alternative is worse. he's getting out there talk about the pledge to america, the republican platform and saying, ok, you may be unhappy with me but look at this. it's a strategy that they think is going to help close the gap in these final few weeks. there is some indications that maybe there's some dispute that. but it's the only tactic at this point. they're not going so much for the independents as their own base. gwen: what about the republicans? >> you can distill their strategy at this point it would be three things. spend money and they have lots to spend. keep talking about barack obama. and say that democrats are a rubber stamp for him. and, third, if you could really
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boil it down, it's, don't mess this up. this is a party that is worried. if you were in a different line of work you'd say their threat matrix is low. they don't have a lot of big problems. they don't want to peak too early. they don't want to say things that get them in trouble. there was a lot of chatter among republicans that newt gingrich probably didn't need to come out and say they were going to win 50-plus seats. while many think it's true, they don't want to do anything to jazz up that democratic base which tends to get jazzed up later than the republicans. the second thing is they could make a big mistake with the money. there's so much money sloshing around in the republican world at this point, especially with those untraceable, untrackble outside auto groups. there's a real danger when i talk to people today that someone is going to make a terribly inappropriate mistake in terms of an thad they cut. we saw a little bit this week when a national republican senatorial committee in preparing for an ad in west virginia, had a casting call
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for actors for this ad and they said, could you wear some john deere hats and something hicky, please. this caused a little bit of a problem for the guy running in west virginia, for that senate seat. the third thing really isn't so much of a problem of what's happening now but later. how are they going to integrate the tea party into this party? the 15 million or 20 million voters who will probably go to the polls as tea party members this year are upset with deficits and entitlementless. things that the republican party has no record of doing anything about for the last 20 years, since early reagan. and reconciling the republicans' rhetoric on these issues with what the energized part of the party is going to come to vote for in the next couple of weeks is really a challenge. you mentioned the money and the tea party -- >> you mentioned the money and the tea party. is a lot of that money going to tea party candidates or establishment republican candidates? >> it's hard to tell. it's untraceable and untrackble. the amount is what's amazing.
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someone vovened in one of these grouped predicted to me today that he thought there would be more than $2 mun million, maybe $300 million in outside money from these republican groups. probably he thinks twice as much is being funneled to the democratic counterpart. so it's a large amount and i asked him, does anyone know where any of it or all of it is going? none of it. gwen: i was in kentucky this weekend. rand paul, the estimates are that he's getting 70% of his money from outside the state and the democrat, the attorney general, was only getting 30% of his money from outside the state. but not necessarily from the shadow groups from individual contributors who are roused by this tea party sentiment. what do the democrats have to counter that? >> we've seen that in $and alaska and other places as well. >> what we see is president obama and the democrats trying to make an issue of what they're talking about. this election is about people trying to hijack your democracy. that was the phrase david plus used this week. and the president himself, i think, on this campaign was talking about, you know, this
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untraceable, unmeasurable amounts of money coming in to take over. it's a reasonable strategy to try to pursue, even as they try to pursue some of the money themselves. but in the end i think it's hard to rouse an electorate when it comes to finances. >> are some of the democrats running away from obama rather than seeking his support? >> certain places in the country it's less useful to have president obama visit. you haven't seen him go to the deep south. you're not going to see him visit texas. in georgia, i went with him a few weeks back and the candidate for governor had something else to do that day. the "l.a. times" had an article today, they quoted a couple of their congressmen saying, don't really need him to come here. one said the president isn't welcome to campaign with me right now. he's welcome to come to the district and help me do my job which is provide relief to my constituents. gwen: how significant is it about the places he is going in he and michelle are campaigning together in ohio, i guess. he has been in wisconsin.
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he was in illinois, his old senate seat last night. he actually has been going places where there has been some moderate input. >> he still of course has great capacity to rouse people who still support him, even if they're disappointed in him. there's a lot of democrats out there who still support him and want him to do well. if he can make the case to them that it's important to his presidency that they come out for people they don't know or care about, their house member or senate member, then he hopes to do better. you'll see him again in pennsylvania, nevada, ohio is coming up again, miami on monday. so he's making the rounds and there are lots of places in the country where he is welcome and useful. >> and joe biden is doing some of the same travel. is he going to different places than the president and why? >> there are places that biden can go or does go that the president doesn't go. nebraska being one, for instance. because he flies under the radar. he's less of a target for republican candidates and ads and so forth. people aren't putting ads on the air saying joe democrat
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supports joe biden. that's not the attack line. so he does have a capacity to do. that he's a good campaigner. he has a lot of, you know, connection to a crowd in the way that sometimes obama doesn't. >> can i ask about the regionalism? it sunde seems like this round we're hearing more about how democrats are nor in trouble in the south, the northeast is still ok. has a different dynamic emerged this time because of regional issues having to do with the president? -- gwen: i want to piggyback with you on that. what are the democrat graphics? >> that's a good question. we've seen over the last couple of decades this sort of polarization of the country by geography. in the old days you had more of a mix in places like new england and places in the south and increasingly people live with people who think more and more like them. so, you know, i think that there are places where obama doesn't sell well and never sold well, probably will never sell well.
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but the purple states, places like virginia, where he did well, despite a republican past, you know, it's a tough battle for like tom per he willow, for instance. >> we polled this weekend new york, connecticut, missouri and nevada. as you moved westward it got harder to for the president. independent voters in particular who basically supported barack obama in 2008, by five or six points, have essentially flipped. in close senate races they support typically, in the close ones, republicans and when you ask independent voters how they feel about the president, it goes from about three to two, close to to two to one in some states. gwen: it seems for both parties there are extremes. the right, the tea party members are giving mainstream republicans heartburn. the left is giving president and his white house heartburn. how do they plan to accommodate
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them if they can between now and the election and even afterwards? >> >> the dog has finally caught the car, he's said about the tea party. he's rattling the bumper and we don't know what to do about it. it's not small. there are going to be four or five members that -- two or three members at least -- in the u.s. senate, they have the capacity to make things really different for republicans should they take that senate and even if they don't. in the house, think of it. if the republicans gain control of the house, they'll probably have 60 to 80 new house members. almost all of them will have run hard. 100% tea party campaigns against any kind of spending. this will be a very big challenge for the republicans to manage those members. >> and what people in the white house and democratic party won't say outloud is that that may be a benefit in some ways to the democrats coming in 2012. that the president would have a republican house. and that they would like to see the republicans try to govern in the obstructionist time of
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environment that they have lot of -- type of environment that they have profited from. gwen: i can't imagine why they won't say that outloud. moving over this is the economy. today's job numbers, the last we'll see before the election, underscore the problem. the unemployment rate is stuck at 9.6%. private sector jobs grew slightly but overall 95,000 jobs disappeared in september. is there any way to spend any of that -- spin any of that as a positive? >> the stock market thought so. it rose above 11,000 today. apparently concluding that we're not going to have a double dip but the -- because the private sector added a few jobs and the fed has to do something. it's kind of a perverse logic. it's really hard to find good news in these numbers. let me just give you two thicks that are just amazing -- things that are just amazing. there are 9 1/2 million people, more than ever on record, who are working part time but wish they had full time jobs. and there are over four million people who have been out of work for a full year.
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that's more people that have been out of work for a full year than all the people who live in louisiana. i think that the democrats and the white house itself are frustrated that for all they did things don't seem to be better. we have a story in tomorrow's pape that are illustrates how frustrating it is. there's a woman who is a teacher in toledo, she's 25 years old. she got laid off. the president had her by his side when he signed the bill giving money to state and local governments, supposed to put teachers back on the payroll. she got offered a job in august. teaching second grade. it's a one-year thing. last week she got laid off because they cut their budget again. and so the president has this problem of saying it could have been worse, which isn't a great slogan. and john boehner, as we saw, all he has to say is, it didn't work. and he doesn't have to give any answer to it. i think the interesting question is, what happens after the election? if the republicans get one of the houses are there going to be some pressures on them to agree with the president on something to make the economy
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better? >> what account fed do at this point? their interest rates are practically zero for the most part and have been for a long time. what are their options? >> after the election,ed day after the election, the fed will conclude a meeting and all signs are that they're going to say, we're going to buy more long-term bonds. it's the last resort thing to. try and push long-term interest rates, the ones that businesses pay, the ones we pay on our mortgages, down a little further. it's kind of a hail marry. they don't know it will work -- mayory. they don't know it will work -- mary. they don't know that it will work. their job is to keep unemployment down and to keep inflation stable and they're failing on both counts. >> but employers haven't responded to what the fed has done already. is it rational for employers not to be hiring as much as the government thought they would be at this point? >> obviously it's hard to believe businesses are not hiring people if they thought they could make money by hiring. gwen: it seems upside down. >> i think it's rational.
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the question is, could you change that? one school is, they're not hiring because there's no demand for their products. if the government could get demand going again, they hire. the other school, the one the republicans are harping on, we've freaked out the business community. there's so much uncertainty that they're just on strike. and the only way to change their attitudes is to change the government. and there's a tension there and we really don't know which it is. the president pocket vetoed a measure this week that would have made it easier to throw people out of their homes if they were being foreclosed. i think it was bank of america today basically froze or stopped at the moment some foreclosure procedures. is there some change coming as a result of this? >> basically when you thought the banks had run out of things to screw up, they can't even do the paperwork on foreclosures. hass going to happen is that this will slow foreclosures, you're absolutely right. bank of america declared a
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moratorium. countries dodd called for a hearing in november. the president vetoed that bill. it's probably going to slow down the foreclosure process. that kind of sounds attractive, who wants people to be thrown out of their house? the fear is it will just prolong the housing mess longer and make the recovery even slower. gwen: let me ask you about the politics of this. politically you can't find a lot of voters who think that a government action is a solution. the tarp, which may have worked, is still incredibly unpopular. the stimulus which may have done something to stop things from getting worse is still incredibly unpopular. yet the only way that economists seem to think to jolt the economy is some sort of government action. is there a middle ground there? >> i don't think so. i think it's very hard for politicians to tell the people, we kind of have to do watchful waiting here and it's going to be a slow recovery. so my sense is that after the election, in the lame duck, there may well be some surprising change from the rhetoric. we may discover that the president will let the republicans extend the tax cuts on the upper income people and
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maybe the republicans will go along with the president on these business-friendly tax cuts or maybe a payroll cut tax holiday. i think the people who listen to the rhetoric of the campaign and think that the congress is going to sit by -- if unemployment could be 10% by the beginning of the year, it's hard to imagine that the politicians will sit on their hands in that circumstance. gwen: thanks for clearing that up, as always, kind of. a remarkable set of arguments at the supreme court this week. in essence, a test of how far we are willing to go to define and protect free speech. especially when even the justices appear to agree that the words themselves are abhorrent in this cafmentse tell us about this case -- case. tell us about this case. >> it's a group that many people watching will have heard of. it's fundamentalist pastor fred fell s out of kansas. they picket at military funerals across the country, saying, thank goodness for dead soldiers. their message is mostly an antigay message and they say that they're protesting the
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military and all government policies because of what they say is a nation that's favorable toward homosexuals, especially in the don't ask, don't tell policy. so you start with that. they go out and went to this burial service of a young man who had been killed in iraq, a marine, and protested across from the church and the father sued for damages, for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, and won with a jury. but a first of all federal appeals court threw it out saying what they were doing was legitimate free speech. the father appeals, comes up to the supreme court and he has a fairly sympathetic audience in the justices saying, you know, this was a family's grieving moment that they were trying to take advantage of. at the same time that they said back when is that they also were grappling with the fact that they have many free speech precedents that protect the
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most hateful, horrific speech. that's sort of the point of it. gwen: for instance, i think back to falwell vs. husbandler magazine. that must have come up. that was a case where there is nobody defending "hustler" magazine except the constitution. >> that's a 1988 case where the supreme court ruled for the magazine and said this parody that it did of the late fundamentalist preacher had to be protected, no matter how outrageous it was. in that case it did involve somebody who was a public figure. but that precedent is sitting there, essentially suggesting to, you know, the justices and lower courts that you can't have a subjective standard about outrageousness dictating when somebody can say he's been harmed. >> is there this an all or nothing thing? either free speech or protecting the sensitivities of grieving families? aren't we allowed to regulate time, manner, place? aren't there ways to do things that protect both sides in some way?
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>> that's a good question. and it's essentially what came up in the hearing. some of the justices talked about, you know, these protesters had to stay away from the church where this was going on and those are rules that are in place. but it wasn't a violation of those kinds of rules that are at issue. it's more the perm injury that the father of this fallen marine was alleging and he's saying, you know, the state governments and local ordinances can prevent this and maybe there can be some criminal action or statute that would come into play. what he wants is a personal remedy for the grief he went through. >> 1988 was a long time ago. gwen: i don't know what you're talking about. >> not for the supreme court, pal. >> this is a different court than in 1988. what do you know about this group of nine folks that tells you that their feelings might have mod later since? >> their feelings on the first amendment as you know for political speech in campaign
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finance was pretty strong. 5-4. but i think that, you know, they're stuck with their precedent. as much as there was sympathy for this grieving father, the daughter of fred who actually argued the case, the lawyer was one of fred's 13 children, who was incredibly effective. because obviously she knows the law inside and out because she's been defending her father and these church followers. she said, hey, this was on a matter of public debate. we have a right to do this. it's one thing if we're getting in people's face, stalking, harrising, but this was speech -- harassing, but this was speech. >> so 9-0? [laughter] >> what about justice kagan? what have we learned about her in that opening round? >> your reference to half a week is that she's recused from several cases because of her old job as solicitor general. very forceful, right in there, didn't hesitate at all. some good questions that drew out, you know, other scenarios
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on free speech issues. so i think she's going to be as much a player as most of these justices. it's what we call a hot bench. a lot of activity among them. >> hot bench. >> this is an exciting dealing. >> is it different this year? >> no, it was very talktive before. it's different than where it was 20 years ago. gwen: because you have all the people from brooklyn on i can say it because i was born in queens. we're talking about the supreme court. only at "washington week." thank you. keep track of daily developments and politics and almost everything else with me on the air and online at the pbs news hour. watch our web cast and follow what our panelists are writing about at the "washington week" website at and we'll see you around the table again next week on "washington week." good night. download our weekly podcast and take us with you. it's the "washington week"
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